The John Legge Prize for the Best Thesis in Asian Studies in 2020 was awarded to  Cheng Nien Yuan’s for her thesis “The Storytelling State: Performing Life Histories in Singapore.”

The ASAA is delighted to announce that the 2021 John Legge Prize for the best thesis in Asian studies in Australia in 2020 has been awarded to Cheng Nien Yuan a graduate from the University of Sydney for the thesis titled “The Storytelling State: Performing Life Histories in Singapore.” 

 The judges have also awarded a runners-up prize, to a second outstanding thesis this year. The thesis on Indonesia titled “Subaltern Agency and the Political Economy of Rural Social Change”, was written by Dr Rebecca Meckelburg a graduate from the Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University.

The Prize

The first prize consists of a cash award of $2,000. The writer of the selected thesis will also receive a certificate and priority consideration for publication in one of the ASAA monograph series.

A prize of $1,000 may be awarded to a second outstanding thesis.

Judges for 2021:

Associate Professor Michael Barr (Flinders University)

Professor Devleena Ghosh (University of Technology Sydney)

Professor Anne McLaren (The University of Melbourne)


The thesis must have been conferred by an Australian university in 2020.

The thesis must deal wholly with a country or countries of Asia or with Australia’s relationship with Asia.

The thesis must be in humanities or social sciences disciplines, broadly defined


Nominations for the next John Legge Prize or the Best Thesis in Asian Studies in 2021 will be announced in 2022.

Those who wish to be considered for the prize will be required to fill out the John Legge Prize form and submit a nomination letter prepared by two current ASAA members outlining the merits of the thesis (maximum of two pages), a copy of the thesis and thesis examination reports (where possible) to the ASAA John Legge prize page by April 30, 2021.